“The obligation of subjects to the sovereign is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power by which he is able to protect them. For the right men have by nature to protect themselves, when none else can protect them, can by no covenant be relinquished…The end of obedience is protection; which, wheresoever a man see it, either in his own or in another’s sword…”
When economic distress reaches a certain point, the individual citizen no longer uses his political power to serve the public weal, but only the help himself. His ideal of political liberty pales before his ideal of economic equality. Once this sentiment has eaten its way into the hearts of the majority of a nation, any political system is doomed to failure. It is useless to tell the embittered masses that their political and economic rulers are not responsible for their misfortunes. It is equally useless to point out to them that a revolution with its attendant disorders would not improve their situation, but would hopelessly compromise it. The world is not ruled by reason, but by passion, and when a man is driven to despair he is ready to smash everything in the vague hope that a better world may arise out of the ruins….The number of those who are beginning to think in terms of socialism is increasing. The adherents of the middle parties, who oppose this development, are dwindling in the same proportion that the number of independent, progressive and self-reliant citizens is being diminished through the increasing pauperization.
Erich Koch-Weser, Minister of Justice of the German Republic
“So what is left? Waning empires. Religious revivals. Incipient anarchy. A coming retreat into fortified cities. These are the Dark Age experiences that a world without a hyperpower might quickly find itself reliving. The trouble is that this Dark Age would be an altogether more dangerous one than the Dark Age of the ninth century. For the world is much more populous—roughly 20 times more—so friction between the world’s disparate “tribes” is bound to be more frequent. Technology has transformed production; now human societies depend not merely on freshwater and the harvest but also on supplies of fossil fuels that are known to be finite. Technology has upgraded destruction, too, so it is now possible not just to sack a city but to obliterate it.”
– Niall Ferguson, A World without Power
“Like states (corporations) possess an abstract legal persona; like states, they are separate from their leaders. Like states, too, this character endows them with much greater staying power and much greater continuity than any individual or even group of individuals are likely to have… Current developments may reflect not so much the decline of the state as a corporation but the ascendancy of one kind of corporation, i.e. that which is not sovereign and does not have “sovereignty” over another, i.e. that which is and does. In this respect the invention of the corporation which dates back to the first half of the seventeenth century, represents one of the greatest revolutions ever in human history; and one whose full implications we are only now beginning to understand.”
– Martin van Creveld, “The Rise and Decline of the State”
“A strange excitement, like that which the Germanic world experienced around AD 1000, ran in those days through the whole Aramaen land. The Magian soul was awakened. That element which lay in the prophetic religions like a presentiment, and expressed itself in Alexander’s time in metaphysical outlines, came now to the state of fulfillment. And this fulfillment awakened, in indescribable strength, the primitive feeling of Fear. In this dawn of Magian world-feeling, hesitant and apprehensive, the end of the world seemed close. All but the shallower souls trembled before revelations, miracles, a final insight into the genesis of things. Men now lived and thought only in apocalyptic images. Actuality became appearance. Strange and terrifying visions were told mysteriously by one to another, read out from fantastic veiled texts and grasped at once with an immediate inward certainty. These creations resemble the terrible figures of the Romanesque cathedral-porches in France, which also are not “art” but FEAR TURNED INTO STONE. Everyone recognized those angels and devils, the ascent to heaven and the descent to hell of divine Essence, the Second Adam, the Envoy of God, the Redeemer of the last days, the Son of Man, the eternal city and the last judgement.”
– Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West
“The final aim of all love intrigues, be they comic or tragic, is really of more importance than all other ends in human life. What it all turns upon is nothing less than the composition of the next generation.… It is not the weal or woe of any one individual, but that of the human race to come, which is here at stake.”
– Arthur Schopenhauer
The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism – and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But, if he’s reasonably strong – and lucky – he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s elan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death – however mutable man may be able to make them – our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.
– Stanley Kubrick